I realize that much of the political establishment, particular on the right, has adopted the Peter Pan philosophy of public policy: anything’s possible, if you wish hard enough. Consequently, too many Americans think that our infrastructure is not only fine, but the best in the world. This, I think, has made it much harder to convince people to support the stimulus package–which should have been called a rebuilding package. But two news items underscore how the pie-in-the-sky way of thinking isn’t sufficient for rebuilding a nation. On the internet front:
The report by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) said the average download speed in South Korea is 20.4 megabits per second (mbps) — four times faster than the US average of 5.1 mbps, ranked 28th.
Japan trails South Korea with an average of 15.8 mbps followed by Sweden at 12.8 mbps and the Netherlands at 11.0 mbps, the report said.
It said tests conducted by speedmatters.org found the average US download speed had improved by only nine-tenths of a megabit per second between 2008 and 2009 — from 4.2 mbps to 5.1 mbps.
“The US has not made significant improvement in the speeds at which residents connect to the Internet,” the report said. “Our nation continues to fall far behind other countries.”
Just think what this is doing to the porn industry. With a policy not based primarily around providing maximal, monosopy (or flat out monopoly) profits to internet (bad) service providers, we could actually do things like use regulation to force higher bandspeeds. TEH SOCIALISMZ!! But this article about the U.S.’s backwardness regarding high speed rail will really raise your self-esteem (italics mine):
This December, high-speed trains designed by the German conglomerate and adapted for Russian winters will ply the rails between St. Petersburg and Moscow. But Siemens hopes their final destination will be the last laggard of the high-speed age: the United States.
For years, businesspeople and politicians have dreamed about America entering the high-speed era, but Amtrak has been plagued by budget and service problems and the closest Americans have come to high speed is the Acela, which rarely runs at what Europeans call high speed.
Now Siemens and its competitors are hoping all that has changed. The economic stimulus passed by Congress in April includes a five-year, $13 billion high-speed rail program. Siemens is one of four makers of high-speed trains, none of them based in the United States, that hopes to take advantage of it.
Siemens executives said the tilt toward political acceptance of high-speed rail in the United States presented a remarkable business opportunity — assuming the systems get built.
The United States “is a developing country in terms of rail,” Ansgar Brockmeyer, head of public transit business for Siemens, said in an interview aboard the Russian test train, as wooden country homes and birch forests flickered by outside the window. “We are seeing it as a huge opportunity.”
So even if we improve our transportation system, many of the economic benefits from building these trains will be exported out of the U.S. It’s like being a colony or something. Again, if we had supported these technologies ten years ago, we would have been in a better place competitively (or more accurately, we might have had a place). Instead, radical deficit reductionists and ‘anti-government’ idiots saw this as bad policy. As I’ve noted before, these simplistic catechisms have consequences–the U.S. is falling behind in information and transportation technology. The latter is particularly disturbing, since that had the potential to revitalize our industrial base.
Once again, this just shows how hapless the Democratic Party is. If these initiatives had been framed not just as jobs programs, but as ways to make U.S. great again, they could have thrown the ‘patriotic’ card back at conservatives (including those within their own party). Imagine harnessing some patriotic fervor towards something that doesn’t involve killing people. (Weird, I know).
It would have been good for the country too.